Best news of the week is that I have been fortunate enough to be selected as one of the final six in the London Ale Taster competition which will be held this coming week. Forgive me for posting large chunks of the press release but I am spending every waking moment revising, researching and rehearsing - practice, practice, practice. Not strictly true but the event does look like it might be a lot of fun and it would be great to have some friendly support.
Spitalfields, London, UK- Following last month's call for applicants for the ancient position of London Ale Taster, on Wednesday 9th June, London's historic Old Spitalfields Market will play host to an special beer event which will see six, short-listed candidates battle it out for the coveted role.
The free event, which is open to the public, takes place at 1pm on the 9th June and will see the six contestants challenged with four tough rounds of ale tasting. They'll have to correctly identify unmarked samples of different ales and match them to a list - earning points for each one correctly identified. This will include a round dedicated to Porter, London's famous brew.
In the fifth and final round, the six hopeful candidates will each have to make a one-minute presentation to a panel of judges, again earning points. The panel includes many well-known names from the industry, including: Pete Brown, a leading beer writer and historian; Steve Wellington, master brewer with the famous White Shield micro-brewery; George Philliskirk, representing the Beer Academy andknown to many TV viewers as the 'Beer Doctor' and Malcolm Ball, chief executive of the Wellington Market Company, the company responsible for Old Spitalfields Market and the revival of this historic role.
The candidate with the most points will be crowned as London Ale Taster for 2010 and it is planned that this will become an annual event.
The competition will, notably, be accompanied by a special 'beer market', which is open between 9am and 3pm, and feature some of London's best-known brewers - including some from further a field. These brewers will offer free samples to the public and sell their ales, in what could be described as a 'mini' beer festival.
Brewers that are kindly supporting the day's event include Brodie's Beers (Leyton), Fullers (Chiswick), Meantime (Greenwich), Redemption Brewing Company Tottenham), Sambrook's Brewery (Battersea), Sharps (Rock, Cornwall), The Kernel Brewery (SE1 and the White Shield micro-brewery (Burton). The Beer Academy and Campaign for Real Ales(CAMRA) will also attend the event and promote their respective organisations activities.
The general public are welcome to come along to the free event, watch the battle for the coveted role and try out some of the ales on offer in the special beer market.
The role of Ale Taster (also known as Ale Conner) would have disappeared in the early nineteenth century and their duties would have involved visiting stalls and inns on market days and during the town's fairs to ensure that the ales, beers and other produce on sale were of good quality.
"The new London Ale Taster will have a much more modern-day role." explains Malcolm Ball, chief executive of Wellington Market Company, the company responsible for Old Spitalfields Market.
"The winner for this year's event will be given a weekly beer budget so that they can carry out the role of 'mystery drinker' in the capital's pubs. We'll set them up with a blog (website diary page) so that they can report back to consumers on what they find on their travels.
"We are planning a number of food and drink-related events at our market this year and the successful candidate will hopefully preside over a number of beer-related activities, such as tasting classes, food / beer matching sessions and the launch of a new beer called Old Spitalfields Bitter (OSB) which we hope will be produced with the help of London's brewers.
"I'd like to stress that the London Ale Taster is all about responsible drinking and in no way are we promoting binge drinking - I guess you could sum up the role with the phrase 'quality, not quantity'!"
One of the London Ale Taster judges, Pete Brown, leading beer writer and historian, whose books have charted the history of brewing and drinking, added: "There's an unprecedented level of interest in great beer these days and a lot of that interest is coming from people who love locally sourced, flavourful, crafted food and drink of all types and don't see why beer should be any exception.
"This post should help spread the appreciation of beer even further and help turn more people on to the variety and depth of flavour in great beer - I think everyone is going to be surprised by how knowledgeable and passionate some of the applicants will be!"
The beer market event opens with the normal market stalls at 9am and the competition commences at 1pm. Further information can be found at find out more at the London Ale Taster website www.london-ale-taster.co.uk
Old Spitalfields Market is a short walk from Liverpool Street Station and Aldgate East Tube - please visit www.oldspitalfieldsmarket.com for further information.